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January 31, 2003 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-01-31

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on both sides of church-state.

HUD rules' proposal gets Jewish attention

Foreign or Domestic

JAMES D. BESSER
Washington Correspondent

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L

ast week's proposed rules by
the Department of Housing
and Urban Development
We Po All The Work
(HUD) expanding the abili-
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ty of religious institutions to get and
use federal money represent a huge
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escalation in the battle over the Bush
administration's faith-based policies.
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Under the proposed HUD guide-
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be used, in part, to build or renovate
a division of
facilities where strictly sectarian activi-
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ities also house government-funded
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In theory, taxpayer money would go
only to those portions of the building
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where secular services are provided; in
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practice, that distinction would be diffi-
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But opponents say the move would
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inflict serious damage to an already-
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battered church-state wall and lead to
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excessive government entanglement in
religious affairs.
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Anti-Defamation League director
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Abraham Foxman called the proposed
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rules "blatantly unconstitutional" and
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said
that if implemented, "taxpayer
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"This is a real escalation in the faith-
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director of the American Jewish
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Congress. "Until now, all their faith-
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He said the rule would put the gov-
ernment in the position "of choosing
which churches or synagogues would
get the money, in a very limited funding
environment; it's not the neutrality that
the Supreme Court has demanded."
He criticized the Bush administra-
tion for trying to enact the sweeping
DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
change without approval by Congress,
which has been slow to pass various
administration "charitable choice" pro ,-

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1131
2003

28

J1•1

visions. "They decided they're not
waiting for Congress or the courts,"
Stern said. "I see this as ideological;
there are things the president believes
in, and he is going to accomplish
them. This is presidentially driven."
Michael Lieberman, the legal direc-
tor of ADLs Washington office, said
the proposed .rules would lead to
excessive government entanglement in
religion because it would require
extensive government surveillance of
how facilities built under the guide-
lines are actually used.
"The entanglement question is very
real; this is institution-building, not
just vouchers that a person could use
at any available program."
But Orthodox Jewish groups are lin-
ing up to support the initiative. "The
proposed ruling makes very clear that
federal money cannot go to the con-
struction or renovation of the-religious
part of a building," said Abba Cohen,
Washington director of Agudath Israel
of America. "In the same way there are
safeguards for other federal programs,
we have every reason to think the safe-
guards that have been incorporated
into this program will effectively
address church-state concerns."
Nathan Diament, director of the
Orthodox Union's Institute for Public
Affairs, said his group is still studying
the proposed change. "But on balance
it's a good thing. The most important
thing it does is remove the institution-
al bias against religious institutions.
"Yes, you have to be careful about
how you go about it. But just because
it's complicated doesn't mean you slam
the door."

Political Notes

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has
been named to head the Democrats'
"Homeland Security Task Force,"
which will watch over the new
Homeland Security Department and
law enforcement agencies involved in
the anti-terror fight.
Schumer said the panel will be non-
political, but in a statement he took
some shots at the Republican adminis-
tration. "While the administration has
been ready and willing to pay for the
war abroad, its security efforts domes-
tically have been all too slow and

incomplete," he said. "This new group
is to make sure the homeland security
effort gets the resources it needs and
doesn't get short shrift."
Over in the House, International
Relations Committee chair Henry
Hyde, R-Ill., has pleased pro-Israel
group by retaining an important
Middle East subcommittee — and
appointing as chair a pro-Israel hawk.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.,
will head the subcommittee on the
Middle East and Central Asia.
Under former Rep. Ben Gilman, R-
N.Y., the committee was a hotbed of
pro-Israel activity; Jewish lobbyists say
that is likely to continue with the out-
spoken Ros-Lehtinen.
Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., now the
chief deputy majority whip, has a lot
of jobs these days. And as a member
of the House GOP leadership, one of
them involves raising
tons of money for his
party. He got a good
start last week at a high-
level fund-raiser organ-
ized by several top
Jewish Republicans.
About 200 of the faith-
U.S. Rep.
ful
attended the gather-
Schumer
ing at Stacks, the new
kosher deli in downtown
Washington that's become.the place to
be for Jewish politicos. A co-sponsor of
the event was one of the restaurant's
owners, lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Cantor also made his way onto the
Stacks menu. A roast-beef-on-challah
sandwich will be named after him,
Abramoff said.
Finally, Sen. Hillary Rodham
Clinton, D-N.Y., successfully inserted
language into a gigantic spending bill
passed by the Senate last week that
would withhold some U.S. funding
for the International Committee of
the Red Cross until the group allows
its Israeli counterpart to join.
Clinton worked with Sen. Peter
Fitzgerald, R-Il., and. Sen. Elizabeth
Dole, R-N.C., the former president of
the American Red Cross.
The $390 billion spending bill,
which funds government programs for
the fiscal year already underway, now
goes to a House-Senate conference
committee.

Aid For Israel

Pro-Israel lobbyists aren't too con-
cerned about an Americans for Peace
Now (APN) demand that new U.S.
aid and loan guarantees for Israel
come with strings attached.
The reason: Israel has already sig-

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